Hill School gets into win col­umn

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Jeff Stover js­tover@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­curyXS­tover on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN >> It took eight games, over a pe­riod of more than seven weeks, to build up an enor­mous amount of frus­tra­tion.

But just one af­ter­noon to ex­or­cise it.

The Hill School ended its painfully slow start to the 2017 sea­son Satur­day against Mercers­burg Academy. The Rams’ sea­son-long slide against MidAt­lantic Prep and non-league op­po­nents was halted in con­vinc­ing fash­ion ... a 32-14 vic­tory over the Blue Storm at Dell Field.

“It’s fun,” Hill head coach Jeff Holl­way said af­ter see­ing his club end its oh-for the sea­son in its home-field fi­nale. “We’ve fought all the way to the end ev­ery game. We just put more on the board to­day.”

The Hill’s “run­ning back by com­mit­tee” ground game pro­duced three touch­downs — two by Daniel Ade­boboye — while its pass­ing game scored an­other pair. The de­fense, in the mean­time, stood firm in halt­ing the Blue Storm’s two late pos­ses­sions driv­ing deep into Ram territory; that was af­ter the visi­tors closed the Hill’s lead to 2014 late in the third quar­ter.

“It was a battle,” Ade­boboye ad­mit­ted. “We wanted to phys­i­cally beat them up top, pound them un­til they stopped.”

Ade­boboye, by him­self, put the ham­mer down on Mercers­burg’s run de­fense. The Hill sixth-for­mer picked up 213 hard yards on 20 car­ries, and the big­gest of his two TD runs was a 79-yarder around his left end that put the Storm in a three­score sit­u­a­tion with 5:26 left.

But the Rams’ ground game was far from a one-man show. Gernard Fin­ney cov­ered an­other 140 stripes on 16 car­ries, headed by a 22-yard scor­ing run around his right end with 10:11 to go. And while he didn’t fig­ure in the point pro­duc­tion, Wes Midy had a work­man­like 71 yards on eight totes.

“We’re start­ing to find a way to mix it up,” Holl­way said of the run game, which had six backs rack up a to­tal of 457 yards. “We have a lot of good weapons. We’re look­ing to keep them healthy.”

The Hill’s pass­ing game of­fered a nice com­ple­ment to its ground-pound­ing ef­fort, adding an­other 114 yards and two touch­downs.

Quar­ter­back Syre Gruber’s 7-for-13 ef­fi­ciency fea­tured scor­ing passes to Chris­tian Chirielei­son and Dar­nell Fleury. He hooked up with Chirielei­son on a 20-yard toss 10 sec­onds into the sec­ond quar­ter for a 7-0 lead, then found Dar­nell Fleury at the end of a 47-yard TD at the 6:51 mark in the third quar­ter.

The Gruber/Fleury col­lab­o­ra­tion was good for six re­cep­tions cov­er­ing 94 yards.

“Phys­i­cally and ath­let­i­cally, he (Fleury) is one of the best I’ve ever played with,” Gruber said. “Plus, he’s tall (6-foot-3).”

Ade­boboye staked the Rams to a 14-point lead fol­low­ing a

0-0 first quar­ter. He went 18 yards around his left end with 8:33 left in the half as the Hill (1-3 MAPL, 1-7 over­all) never let its lead shrink be­low six points.

“All sea­son long,” he said, “we’ve started games well, but then faded out at the end. “We weren’t go­ing to do that to­day. We weren’t go­ing to give up.” Mercers­burg’s ground and air games con­trib­uted fairly equally to their 298 yards’ to­tal of­fense. Ti­jani Har­ris Jr. ran the ball 22 times for 135 yards and a third-quar­ter score, that af­ter his 52yard op­tion pass to Gabe Hen­drick­son put the Storm on the board in the sec­ond quar­ter.

But the Hill de­fense rose to the oc­ca­sion at the end, forc­ing Mercers­burg to turn the ball over on downs twice in a sev­en­minute span at the end. Sharif Jones’ de­fense on a fourth-and-12 in­com­pleted pass was the fi­nal call for the Storm, which was also look­ing to end its own ohfer the sea­son slide.

“Mercers­burg coach Dan Walker does a great job with his kids,” Holl­way said. “I have a lot of re­spect for him.”

The win fig­ures to give the Rams a head of steam head­ing into next week­end’s sea­son fi­nale at Lawrencev ille School. T he matchup be­tween the long­time ri­vals will be the 130th in the schools’ his­tory.

“To­day, we wanted to get the win,” Ade­boboye said, “be­cause it will give us mo­men­tum go­ing into the Lawrenceville game ... a chance to get a win.”

“The schools re­volve around this game,” Holl­way added. “It will be my first trip there.”

NOTES » Justin Adedin­sewo’s re­cov­ery of a Mercers­burg fum­ble at the Rams’ 48, fol­low­ing QB Ben­nie Barnes’ 53-yard com­ple­tion to Ja­son Fang, set the Hill up Ade­boboye’s first TD run. ... The Hill faced a frus­tra- tion-load­ing 16 penal­ties for 155 yards. One of them can­celled out what would have been Ade­boboye’s sec­ond TD of the game — a 43-yard run — though he got it four plays later. “Penal­ties are penal­ties,” Holl­way said. “We can only con­trol what we con­trol. We worry about Hill first.” ... The Rams tried to add a 22-yard field goal as time ran out in the first half, but the at­tempt was blocked.

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